TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran’s call for a change of attitude on the part of the Tamil Diaspora in the West on the question of the TNA engaging with the Lankan state on working out a solution to the conflict is most timely and we hope it would be given some consideration.
Besides, the MP has placed one of the most perceptive perspectives, to date, on the clear and substantial mandate the TNA received at the recent Local Government poll. That is, the view that the people of the North are overwhelmingly for the talks.
The undimmed popularity of the TNA in Northern Sri Lanka as manifested in the Local Government electoral outcome, testifies to the strong backing the Northern Tamils are continuing to extend to the TNA on account of its core policies, and one of these is its continuing engagement with the government on finding a political solution to the conflict. Another is the continuing commitment of the TNA to democratic and Parliamentary politics. That is, the majority of the people of the North are continuing to pledge their allegiance to peace and the democratic way of life. Terror, in other words, is standing condemned by the majority of the Northern people.
Accordingly, the majority of the people of the North should be seen as overwhelmingly supporting current state – TNA efforts at resolving the conflict politically. Implicit in this position is the wish of the majority of the Tamil people to live within a united and unitary Sri Lanka. This heartening message should not be missed out on in our efforts to correctly construe the recent electoral outcome in the North.
However, as a party which is perceptive of ground realities, the TNA seems to be now quite positive of the need to continue with the negotiatory effort with the state. The people of the North are not only for democratic politics, they are also for a negotiated solution and the TNA sees this very clearly. Therefore, its call to the Diaspora for a change of heart on the conflict is most timely and advisable. For, it is clear that the well being of the Tamil people would not be served as a result of the groups professing to represent the Tamil people continuing to be at loggerheads with the Lankan state.
While it is true that the road to a durable solution to the conflict is still very long, and that the negotiatory effort needs to yield more concrete results, it is also plain that nothing would come out of efforts to keep the main parties to the conflict in a confrontational relationship. However, this would be the case if the Tamil people are under compulsion to conform to the Diaspora’s point of view. It should be noted that the conflict could not be viewed from a Diasporic angle because this is essentially a viewpoint which is out of touch with ground realities. MP Sumanthiran is quoted as saying that the TNA’s talks with the government are now taking a positive turn and it’s only right that these talks are allowed to proceed without let or hindrance.
We are quite aware that the Diaspora does not represent a monolith in terms of political opinion. Accordingly, it is time for moderate opinion among the Diaspora to now assert themselves and to convince their compatriots of the need to give peace a chance. As veteran TNA politician R. Sampanthan recently said, the political realities of the day are such that it is well within President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s capacity to deliver on a satisfactory political solution. Not only is he comfortably in power and in a position to work towards a solution, the UPFA is commanding a huge majority in Parliament and is enjoying the capacity to usher in the needed positive changes, chiefly constitutional in nature.
These are starkly evident truths which the hard liners among the Diaspora would forget only at their peril. For, if they continue on a collision course with the Lankan state, the chance to work towards a solution may be lost, perhaps, forever.
The hard liners need to see that their criticisms of the state would only be grist to the mill of anti-Sri Lanka forces on the international scene. These forces are all out to undermine Sri Lanka and do not really care a straw for the Tamil people. The Tamil people could only be helped through an improvement in their lot and only the state could help in achieving this, considering the current balance of political forces in the North. Therefore, we ask that wisdom be allowed to prevail and peace be given a chance.